(Shot by Manny Jefferson)
V-NECK T-SHIRT: Primark
SHORTS: American Apparel
SANDALS: La Moda
GLASSES: American Apparel
I love my tight, 'nappy' hair. I love my dark upper lip. I love my blackness. But sadly, this world doesn't want me to adore me. This world wants me to hate me because insecure people are the easiest to control. And the easiest way to make someone insecure is to convince them that they are not and will not ever be 'enough'. As a result of this, we, as people of colour end up chasing the unattainable validation of our equally insecure oppressors who use the bullying of majestic, beautiful people as a coping mechanism for their own self-inflicted insecurities.
The reason I am saying all this is because we need for us black people as potential-filled individuals, to really go hard and love our individual selves. If we want to rebuild our communities, it has to start at home...with self. One cannot share an empty cup. But when you cup is full of love, you can pass some love onto someone else who is struggling a little harder than you; and slowly, we can support and love each other back onto our feet. With tightly-knitted families, come well-bonded communities, which form stable, love-filled nations.
As a start, we need to really support our friends. If you can't afford to buy their products (sometimes payday is way too far away...I feel you), please remind them of the importance of never giving up on your vision. Please help push their content and spread the word! This is often worth a lot more than financial support because faith can take you way further than funds can.
Ever since I started my self-love journey at the beginning of this year, I made a vow to myself that I will dedicate myself to not only loving my being, but helping other beautiful people recognise their value, potential and importance in this universe. We really need to have each other's backs, man!
(Shot by Manny Jefferson)
BRALETTE: American Apparel
SKIRT: GAP (Vintage)
BUMBAG: Mojo Kojo
EARRINGS: Kay Davis
Welcome to my special Lagos Baby series, where I'll be sharing special outfit posts I've shot in Nigeria! Being a Nigerian is honestly such an incredible, hilarious and beautiful experience. From the well-seasoned food, to the deep-rooted culture, Nigeria is a nation of pride and excellence, laced with inimitable energy. I wouldn't trade being a Nigerian for ANYTHING ELSE!
Lagos (being the former capital city) is where I made the decision to spend my Summer and I feel so grateful that I did so because I met a wonderful photographer named Manny, who I was blessed enough to spend a day with.
For the past year, I've been on a very concentrated self-acceptance journey and have made a solid pact with myself to really love my body - especially my boobs, for how they hang. A lot of us women with larger boobs can definitely relate to the stigma attached to not wearing a bra if you have larger boobs - let alone 'saggy'-looking ones. Mine are both. And I'm very okay with that. Because they're mine and they're attached to an awesome, infinitely interesting being full of love, flowers and laughter: ME! If you happen to also deal with the struggle of how your boobs look - whether they're large or small, I'd just like you to know that your beauty extends far beyond your boobs and no, you won't die alone because of the posture of your boobs. Someone WILL love you!
Redirect your focus to an area of yourself that needs a lot more love and attention, like your emotional health!
LEOTARD: East End Thrift Store
FAUX FUR COAT: Freemans
HAT: BBY GAL
GLASSES: La Moda
This is going to be a very lengthy post so brace yourself!
I just want to begin by saying that this has been my favourite shoot that I've ever done with my friend Johnny. There is nothing better than to find someone just as driven, experimental and creative as you are. Johnny and I have known each other for exactly a year and without any exaggeration, this past year has been the most pivotal, growth-filled year of my life. Johnny played a major role in that.
We met via Instagram. One day, I was scrolling through my Instagram home screen when I saw a direct message pop up on my screen. I opened it, not thinking much of it, as I often get photographers messaging me to work with me. He introduced himself and said that he wanted to work with me. He seemed cool so I looked at his Instagram account. He only had about just under 200 or so followers and a small amount of work but I was pulled in by what I saw and wanted to see more. I opened his website link, to see the most amazing, depth-filled shots I'd ever seen from someone so young (he was only 19 at the time). Immediately, I arranged a date to shoot with him and since then, nothing has been the same.
I'll never forget the story of how Johnny and I met because it is literal proof that if you aren't willing to take a risk, you aren't willing to change your life. When the fear of remaining stagnant outweighs the fear of hearing a 'no', that is the moment your life changes. Johnny felt a little anxious to message me because he didn't know if I would say 'yes', based on the large following I had. But he took that risk and I'm so happy he did. Fear is what keeps us where we don't want to be. Not only is Johnny an AWESOME photographer, he is also a really great friend who unknowingly got me out of a difficult period in my life where I was struggling to find the support I knew I deserved. His belief in me meant him doing late nights editing shots for me, carrying heavy bags of equipment just so we could play around with shooting in various formats, and not ever for once, giving up on me or making me feel like an inconvenience to him.
Because of how strong our friendship has become, our aim between ourselves is literally to bring out the best in each other. If you're reading this, thank you very much Johnny.
* * *
As a 21-year-old woman, I have reached a point in my life where all I am used to is change. I know I am not the only person going through this weird space in my life so I just want to share 21 things that have kept me going as a young woman finding herself:
1. You need to be your FIRST LOVE.
By this, I mean that you must love yourself in the way you dream of being loved. Most of us dream of a love where we are unconditionally accepted by our lover yet, we can't even accept ourselves. Fall in love with what you have been taught to believe that are your flaws. As hard as it is to believe, the more in love you are with yourself, the more someone else (who deserves you) will love you. Notice that trying to love someone who doesn't love their self very much eventually becomes tiring. Love shouldn't be about constantly reassuring you that you are beautiful. It should be about reminding you of what you already know.
2. Not everything deserves a reaction.
Stillness maintains inner peace. Having said that, if something has gone on for too long and you know you deserve to be in a better environment, move. You will thank yourself for doing so.
3. Shaving bumps happen.
I used to literally cry at the sight of every shaving bump that appears on my skin. The fear stemmed from the poisonous belief that the more scars a woman has, the less 'fresh' she is. Society teaches us that as women, we have to be shiny and smooth all the time or else, we won't be appealing to the opposite gender. Meanwhile, it's totally okay for the opposite gender to have all the scars and all the bruises they want because it makes them appear as 'more manly'. Meh. As long as you live on this planet and interact with it like the human being that you are, you cannot possibly avoid it interacting with you too. Scars are stories. No man will run from you at the sight of having scars from trying to remove hair from your body. Don't forget that your body is a mere envelope for the infinitely interesting soul that you are.
4. We are all a little insecure.
Thanks to social conditioning, we are all a collective mess as human beings. But no amount of insecurities justify treating someone else poorly. You can tell how much someone loves their self by the way they treat other people.
5. Your 'weird' boobs are normal.
Don't let these instagram boutiques, Tumblr photos and Dr Miami-visiting celebrities make you think that your natural hang is wrong. Some of us have small, pointy boobs. Some of us have large, far-apart boobs. Some of us have unequal boobs. Some of have 'saggy' boobs. I have 'saggy' boobs. I'm a 32 DD and I wasn't blessed with the socially acceptable gene of having super perky boobs. This used to bother me. A lot. I soon realised that I am a goddess and my boobs have character because they belong to the infinitely amazing being that is me. I am not here for male consumption. I am here to be loved for the bundle of awesomeness that I am.
6. People regret treating you badly when you start to treat yourself better.
7. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean that you have to go back.
You know exactly what I am talking about. Yes, you.
8. Your sexuality is yours to define. Nobody else's.
You do not need to be anything that you do not feel ready for. Acting out of pressure to fit in will always breed results that you'll have to deal with alone. Also, you do not owe anybody any explanations for what you intend to do with your body as long as you are not harming yourself. It is yours. All yours.
9. Stretch marks happen.
Unless you are a toddler, it is impossible for you to be old enough to be reading this post and not have a couple stretch marks here and there. They are marks that have come from stretching of the skin. You are human. It is okay. You are not any less desirable because of this.
10. You dictate your value.
The less you tolerate, the more people will respect you. The more you tolerate, the less people will respect you because you don't seem to have any boundaries. Boundaries are important. Extremely important. Make it clear that you are not going to accept 'anyhow' treatment by distancing yourself when you feel like you are tired of repeating yourself.
11. Wear what you feel good in.
I don't like wearing bras. They make me feel restricted and squashed. There's a stigma attached to not wearing a bra if you have big boobs but that stigma is yet another patriarchal attempt to control women. I'm not here for it.
12. Love WILL find you.
The more you attempt to look for/prepare yourself for love, the longer it will take to appear in your life. The most beautiful things happen when we let go. Recline and trust that you will be adored for who you are one day. Until then, focus on being the best you that you can be for yourself right now.
13. It is okay to feel things deeply.
Often, the people who stigmatise being 'emotional' lack the depth and emotional intelligence required to even understand their own emotions enough to throughly enjoy the human experience. The less in touch you are with your sadness, the less in touch you will be with your happiness. You are not crazy, dramatic or 'weak' for being sensitive. Where being sensitive can become problematic is the moment you allow these feelings to alter the way you view not only yourself, but the world around you for the worst.
14. You are enough.
You must understand that for the person you are right now, you are enough. Everything you need to get through this moment, is already here within you. You will always be enough, deep down. But do not attach your enough-ness to someone else because for the wrong person, even at your BEST, you still will not be enough in their eyes. But for the right person, even at your worst, you will still be WORTH IT to them. I promise.
15. You are not a bad person/witch for not wanting to have kids.
This world is only getting worse and it would be selfish to bring a child into it if you feel that you genuinely can't give them the care they deserve.
16. It is better to be alone by choice, than to be in an environment where you feel lonely.
Relationships, as much as they are romanticised, are overrated when you really do weigh up the psychological and emotional strain it comes with when you find yourself in a constant state of arguing with the other person. Having said that, I do think relationships are amazing. Being alone by choice allows you to form a relationship with yourself. This is the most important relationship of all because this sets the tone for every other relationship you will have.
17. It is very okay to find yourself beautiful.
You are an expression of the Universe. You are not a fluke.
18. Not everybody has the same heart as you.
Keep it pure and keep it moving. The less you expect, the less disappointment you will feel.
19. You are capable.
20. Your confidence will make you memorable.
Have you noticed that the more confident someone is in the way that they carry their self, the more we want to be around them?
21. You are irreplaceable.
T-SHIRT: East End Thrift Store
DRESS: American Apparel
GLASSES: LA MODA
BOOTS: LA MODA
It's never too late to own your beauty. But the earlier you start, the more content you will feel in life. The last thing you want to do is look back on your life and only see a person who didn't love their self as much as they deserved to. Ever since birth, we as people, have been taught that it's 'vain' and somewhat wrong to love yourself 'too much'; it's okay to love yourself as long as you don't intimidate anybody whilst doing so. I think that is wrong. I think it is beautiful to love yourself without limitation because self love is not just about finding yourself beautiful - it is all about self-acceptance, self-forgiveness and self-care. Without loving yourself, you cannot grow because growth can only happen when you believe in better for yourself.
Okay. Time to talk about this outfit! I need you to know that thigh high boots make your legs look SO HOT. If you're someone who doesn't particularly like the shape of her legs, thigh high boots are awesome because they cover up most of the leg and only show a little thigh.
An oversized tee with a pair of heels will always be a LOOK. ALWAYS. If the tee is large enough to fit as a dress, AWESOME! If the tee isn't long enough to be a dress, just wear a mini skirt underneath and you're literally good to go, homegirl!
I'm going to revisit what I was saying about self-love because I want to add that you, reading this right now, are the only YOU in this vast universe. Amongst all this chaos and confusion that life continues to dish us, the least you can do for yourself is fall in love with yourself. You deserve it.
DRESS: American Apparel
GLASSES: American Apparel
JACKET: EARL DUNCAN
BERET: Vintage (Handed down from Mother dearest)
EARRINGS: Kay Davis
SANDALS: LA MODA
BAG: MARC JACOBS
Shoutout to Johnny for the badass photography! He really captured me in the midst of my babygirl vibe. I've been feeling myself a lot more lately, and I hope by the end of you reading this post, you'll feel yourself a lot more too. If you're reading this, you deserve to feel good about yourself, babygirl.
I recently bought this dress in the American Apparel sale and surprisingly, it's actually a size XS, which is hilarious because I wear a size M in dresses even though I'm relatively slim (big booty, big boobies). I'm making a fuss out of the size of this dress because I think it's really sad and problematic that us women measure our beauty according to the letter or size on a garment label and it's insanity. I clearly do not look like a size XS, which is a size 4-6 yet, I 'fit' into it. Does that mean I'm extra small? Or does it mean I'm just wearing what looks good on my body according to my idea of 'good'? Every woman's body is different in size, proportion and weight so you should not attach any shame to being a size 14, a size 6 or a size 20 because at the end of the day, you're still size beautiful, homegirl! These are all numbers and letters used to put our bodies into boxes for the ease of selling items.
I have to use this moment to talk about my amazingly glamorous pom-pom earrings that have been hand-made by the magnificent Kay Davis. She's definitely one woman I look up to because she's my definition of a girl-boss. A girl-boss is:
- A woman who understands the value she has on this earth
- A woman who fearlessly indulges in her talents
- A woman who challenges the norm
- A woman who slays in a world that really only accommodates men
- A woman who embraces her own beauty
- A woman who fights for her beliefs
- A woman who shines with positivity, even when the world mocks her for it
Every woman has the potential to be a girl-boss. She must walk and talk like she deserves to be heard and to be seen. She must wake up with a purpose and go to sleep with a goal. She must be kind, compassionate but also firm and ready to clap back when unnecessarily disrespected. But most importantly, she must not let any man take advantage of her because her mere presence on this earth, alone, is a gift.
It's never too late to change and start believing in yourself, homegirl.